Are you planning on attending college? Before you start filling out any admissions applications, it is important to set aside time and research each institution. Some institutions are well known for degree programs in specific fields or their distance education courses, and other schools are well known for their athletics teams. While all of these factors are considerations to keep in mind, you need to be sure that you look into a school's accreditation standing before you make any concrete decisions. If you are wondering why you should take time to select schools that are regionally, nationally or internationally accredited, read this basic guide to accreditation and make a wise choice for your future.
What is an Accreditation from an Accrediting Body?
An accreditation shows that a school or a specific degree program has been approved by a recognized agency that has set high standards. Some accreditation are given on a regional basis, some on an national basis, and others on an international basis. One thing that students need to understand is that there are dozens upon dozens of different accrediting agencies that oversee specialty programs in different fields and different regions of the world.
From the Accreditation Bureau of Health Education Schools that oversees allied health program curriculum, to the Distance Education and Training Council Accrediting Commission that oversees online programs, the accreditation will depend upon a variety of different specific factors. To browse a list of agencies and bodies that accredit programs and free-standing institutions, visit the list of bodies in the US.
Financial Reasons to Attend an Accredited School
Now that you understand what accreditation is, the next step is setting aside time to learn how accreditation can benefit you as a student pursuing a postsecondary education. One of the main reasons why students should attend a school that is accredited is because the Federal Department of Education requires that schools are accredited for the school the participate in the Financial Aid program. Because most students can benefit from Federal Financial Aide, it is in your best interest financially to choose a school that accepts FASFA applicants.
Long-term Reasons to Choose an Accredited College
If you have plenty of savings to cover tuition or you already have a full scholarship, financial reasons may not be convincing enough to choose an accredited college. If you understand how accreditation can benefit you in the long run, you will be convinced. If you are planning on attending a graduate school later down the line, you must have a degree from an accredited school or your credits will not be recognized. Sometimes, an employer will not even look at a degree if the school is not accredited. This is because schools without accreditation have not passed the test to show that they offer quality programs. If you choose not to go for a school that has this seal of approval, you could be wasting your time.
Credits that have been earned at an accredited school can be transferred. Make sure you narrow your list of schools based on accreditation first. Once you do this, you can move on to research other factors that will give you more confidence. Make the smart choice, and choose a school that has been approved by a quality accreditor.